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Darnell Washington isn’t afraid of “the dirty work”

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a tremendous 2023 NFL Draft class by almost all metrics. Not only did they hit several picks out of the proverbial ballpark, but there is still a ton of potential with some picks during the draft. One pick which is brimming with potential is tight end Darnell Washington.

Washington is coming off a rookie campaign where he played serious snaps, but was nothing more than an extra blocker. Despite being a weapon most fans though the Steelers would utilize in multiple ways, he was essentially a tackle-eligible blocker for the majority of the season. Did it leave a sour taste with Washington? Not necessarily.

“Everyone wants to be involved. Everyone wants a piece of the pie,” Washington told the Steelers official website. “Some people’s pieces are bigger. I don’t complain about anything.

“I love doing the dirty work and whoever decides that part, if they want me to do more of the dirty work, I am all for it. I am 110 percent in. I value my role. I embrace it. If I keep getting to do it, it’s a blessing.”

As for blocking, Washington knows what the Steelers organization asked of him his rookie season, and it’s exactly what he did for the team last season. He blocked and tried his best to help his teammates succeed. Whether it is run blocking or pass protection, he was enjoying his first season as a professional.

“It’s actually fun,” said Washington. “Sometimes people notice it, sometimes they don’t. If it’s a big run, big play, sometimes they value it, sometimes they don’t.

“It’s just what I do. If I make a key block, I cherish that moment. I just keep to myself and don’t worry about other’s opinions or thoughts. I just stick to myself.”

Washington and his fellow rookies didn’t just gain the attention of outsiders, but their head coach. Mike Tomlin never likes to heap praise on rookies, but at the season-ending press conference he realized just how great the group was in 2023.

“I thought we got quality production from them,” said Tomlin of the rookie class. “In many instances, they didn’t wilt, which was good. We were thoughtful about their participation in most instances early on in an effort so they could be available for us down the stretch. That played out relatively well, to be quite honest with you.

“I’m excited about the group. Guys in that group, I think they got bright futures ahead of them and excited about being a component of their development.”

Speaking specifically for Washington, the hope in 2024 is he is utilized more as a pass catcher and not solely as a blocker. When it comes to setting a new standard, the bar isn’t very high with Washington’s long reception last season was for 12 yards, never once hitting paydirt for a TD.

Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2024 offseason.


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